So often I have heard people in my generation and the generation above me lament over the work ethic and overall disposition of Millennials. Much has been written or discussed how to deal with, how to lead and how to learn from Millennials. Many of the characterizations and mischaracterizations are stereotypical at best. What hasn’t been talked about much is how we created them and how we have to change how we parent and lead the next generation, or we will only perpetuate the problem.
Before I talk about how to correct the problems that are evident in many Millennials let me say a couple of things. 1. This is not true of every Millennial 2. Millennials have many good traits and abilities that we can no doubt learn from, but in this post, I want to tackle how we parent differently and lead differently in light of the deficiencies that is evident in so many Millennials.
The starting place is definitely in well-intentioned parents and leaders. Every parent who remotely cares for their kids wants them to have a better life than they had. They want them to have more experience more and do more than they did. If you are a leader and parent and you don’t want what’s best for your kids or employees you need to examine yourself and ask why isn’t that something you desire because you should especially if you are a Chrisitan.
Where our good intentions went wrong.
- We overprotected – When you overprotect your kids you keep them from harm, but you also keep them from the pain of failure. Kids who don’t know the pain of failure grow up with a misinformed reality. They think they are better than they really are. They have a devastating lack of self-awareness that failure has a way of producing. My parents’ first instinct was never to call the school when kids were harassing me they helped me figure out how to navigate the difficulties of the playground which as it turns out are remarkably like the difficulties in the workplace. When we keep our kids in a bubble and cushion every blow, we never give them the life skills to deal with both adversity and criticism. They will either dismiss it as untrue even if it is or be crushed by it and retreat to a world of self-doubt and depression. Allow your kids to experience difficulty and walk them through how to respond. If someone criticizes them don’t go after the person who is being critical ask your kid “Is what they are saying true?” If yes, then how can you change as a result of what they are saying. If no, don’t worry about what they are saying. If you are kids are wrong and the kid being critical is right let your kids know that what they said is true but how they said it could have been more helpful.
- We over provided – When kids treat 900.00 phones and 1500.00 tablets like they are a necessity they deserve we have failed them. Or when they say things like oh well I’ll just have my parents get me a new one when they are lost, stolen or broken. When we give our kids good things, we do well when our kids don’t learn the cost or the care of good things we fail them. When we over provide they think that they deserve things that are really gifts and they think they achieve things without effort. Everything in life comes at a cost someone paid. Even grace. Grace is free, but it is not cheap. It comes to us at the greatest price, God’s only son. When we over provide for our kids, they never learn gratitude, hard work or patience and the only thing we cultivate in their inward bent heart is entitlement.
- We overpromised – We tell our kids they can be anything they want to be. This just isn’t practically true, and it isn’t spiritually true. The reason why it isn’t practically true is God made each of our kids with a certain bent, with certain gifts and talents our job as a parent is not to tell them they can be anything they want to be but to help them discover who God created them to be. There are a whole host of 20 somethings in our world today who have no idea what they want to be because they were told they could be anything. It isn’t spiritually true because if we understand that God is a good God and he ordains all things we were created to something, not anything. Because God created us he knows what is best for us to do saying you can do anything puts you at the center rather than God. Our question should be what do you think God has gifted you to do. What problem has God specially created for you to solve?
Parents and those lead young people in your right desire for your kids and those you lead to having a better life don’t sell them short by overprotecting, over providing and overpromising. Let’s give our kids what they need and at the same time teach them to be dependant on the giver of all things. Let’s teach our kids how to deal with criticism. Lastly, let’s point our kids to Jesus who created them to be something, not anything.